The European Parliament today adopted a very strong position on the forthcoming Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations at the UN. For more than 10 years the Greens have been lobbying for the establishment of a treaty to regulate the global arms trade and today's resolution will add valuable support to the efforts of the EU delegation preparing for a tough two weeks of negotiations.
The arms trade remains a grey area with very little international regulation and transparency. This is unsurprising given the position of permanent UN Security Council members as major arms producers. The ongoing crisis in Syria shows how ineffective a UN arms embargo can be when countries such as Russia and China wish to supply a regime with weapons. Indeed there are more international laws regulating the trade in bananas than in weapons and more than 40 UN Member States do not have a regulatory framework for the control of arms transfers. At the same time 1,500 people are killed every day in conflict and armed violence
This is why we need a strong and robust treaty which requires member states to deny exports in cases where there is a serious risk of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. According to Tarja Cronberg, MEP and Spokesperson for the Greens on Security and Defence, the adopted resolution meets this goal and more. The Greens were able add important proposals on anti-corruption mechanisms and the inclusion of Dual Use goods into the ATT. This is important as the distinction between military and civilian security items is increasingly blurred. Most of the relevant goods now have the same high tech components.
Unfortunately the group lost a very important amendment on the role of civil society organisations and their access to the mechanisms of implementation of the treaty. Commenting on this after the vote, Cronberg added: "The access of the NGOs and wider public to issues such as the arms trade is crucial and we need to strengthen it not only in the framework of the global ATT but also at home in the EU".